What will travel around town be like in the future?

Points of view
What will travel around town be like in the future?

Smart, autonomous and clean vehicles: there are many kinds of technology emerging to ensure more agile and sustainable mobility in and around our towns. What do the next two decades have in store for us? Read the trend overview by Georges T. Roos, a Swiss futurologist who specialises in disruptive scenarii.

Tomorrow there will be connected and automated means of transport. This is true of metros and tramways, but also of buses and individual vehicles. Vehicles will communicate with each other and with the road to manage unforeseen obstacles along the route. Goods transportation will also be concerned; driverless lorries will connect towns and cities and there will be small, automated utility vehicles for the last mile.
 
Ultra flexibility

Flexibility will be the key concept for vehicles coming to pick up passengers on demand, including some public transport modes. Self-piloted shuttles will emerge that do not have pre-defined stops and which can be controlled by an application to connect areas isolated from major mobility hubs. The frontiers between public and private transport will become increasingly porous.
Flexibility will also be found in traffic models. Commuting requirements will gradually contract with the development of home working to promote more flexible management of timetables and, as a correlation, of traffic.

The end of the personal vehicle?

Car pooling, the sharing of vehicles with the pooling of a fleet of vehicles between a group of individuals, will gradually replace individually-owned vehicles. Although car makes will survive, manufacturers will no longer sell vehicles, but will offer mobility services. In the same vein as what happened to the music business, there will be new business models including subscriptions to access bundles of mobility services.
Other players will also enter the market such as Apple and Google. Many companies still to be established will redefine the market.

The service-based approach heralds the end of parking issues. City dwellers will be able to order a vehicle to take them from point A to point B before it sets off for another destination. There will no longer be a need to search for a parking space; vehicles will be in a moving pool.

Finally, air traffic and especially automated drones for transporting people, will gradually take shape. This flexible mobility solution is particularly well suited to emergency transportation and has the same flexibility as a private jet while remaining accessible to the general public.

When can we expect the boom in automated vehicles?

Experts agree that they should arrive on our roads sooner than we think. Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn asserted that “the technology will be ready in 2018 and that the market could take off by 2020”. The sector should hit cruising speed by 2035, according to AT Kearney, as regulations, the lack of standards and inappropriate infrastructure are the significant obstacles.
The automated car will be a continuation of the home and will receive a plethora of services and communicating objects. According to a survey by the Transportation Research Institute at the University of Michigan, between 26% and 40% of passengers plan to read, watch videos, play or work on-board.

Georges T. Roos is a Swiss futurologist, the author of several studies and the founder of a forward-looking institute and of the internationally-renowned European Futurists Conference in Lucern.

23/06/2016
Car pooling, the sharing of vehicles with the pooling of a fleet of vehicles between a group of individuals, will gradually replace individually-owned vehicles.